Member Complains About Child’s Teacher
A member contacts the unit president wondering how to proceed with a complaint against her child’s teacher. She intends to speak to the principal regarding her child’s educational programming and report card evaluation. The member is seeking clarification of her obligation to her son’s teacher since they are both employees of the school board.
The member is advised that the regulations under the Teaching Profession Act apply to any teacher making an adverse comment about another teacher. This requirement is applicable even when the member is acting in the role of a parent. The regulation requires that a written copy of any complaint be provided to the teacher within 72 hours of being made. The member must also be mindful of school board policies, which require that attempts to resolve any issue or concern be first addressed with the teacher.
Members are advised to proceed cautiously in these situations. Regulation 18 (1) under the Teaching Profession Act outlines the duties of a member to fellow members as follows:
A member shall:
- Avoid interfering in an unwarranted manner between other teachers and pupils;
- On making an adverse report on another member, furnish him/her with a written statement of the report at the earliest possible time and not later than three days after making the report.
Harassment policies of the board may also apply since both parties are employees of the board. Parents have a right to advocate for the best education for their child, but as teachers they must abide by the rules of their profession, which include upholding the dignity of the profession.
That a member is a teacher first and a parent second, is a concept reinforced by three Supreme Court decisions. Mr. Justice La Forest, speaking for a unanimous Supreme Court, stated, “Teachers are seen by the community to be the medium for the educational message and because of the community position they occupy, they are not able to ‘choose which hat they will wear on what occasion.’ Teachers do not necessarily check their teaching hats at the school yard gate and may be perceived to be wearing their teaching hats even off duty.”
Teachers are advised to act appropriately and professionally when interacting with other teachers.